One after another, whether it was Juan Cuadrado or Federico Bernardeschi, crosses from the right wing seemed to have one of two targets Tuesday night. It was either intended for Alvaro Morata or Moise Kean, with the latter occupying more of a deeper option to that of Juve’s No. 9. It was a clear plan — try to take advantage of what advantage in the air that Juventus may have over Cagliari.
After hitting the post once and seeing another headed effort going over the crossbar, the third time ended up being the charm for a certain Mr. Kean.
Kean’s header off a slightly deflected Bernardeschi cross five minutes before halftime proved to be the only offense that Juventus needed to see away Cagliari in the final match of the 2021 calendar year. Kean’s goal, a lot like what happened over the weekend against Bologna, was the only thing keeping Juventus ahead fo Cagliari, with Bernardeschi adding his first Serie A goal in 18 months to give the Bianconeri the 2-0 win over the relegation battlers. Throw in Genoa holding Atalanta scoreless and Juve’s win meant Max Allegri’s side went into the holiday break four points behind La Dea in the race for fourth place.
But no matter what you think of Juventus’ attacking “prowess” after the opening goal, you gotta admit that it was a pretty nice finish considering Kean had to be at least a little frustrated with how things were going up until that point.
Moise Kean gives Juventus the lead at HT pic.twitter.com/yxiPpi0yIb— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) December 21, 2021
The cross, deflected as it may be. The run by Kean to find that little pocket of space. And the finish isn’t too bad, either. That’s what Juve need from Kean going forward. That’s what Juventus need from all of its main strikers going forward.
But just the simple fact that it was Kean, playing again on the left side of Allegri’s 4-3-3 as a result of Paulo Dybala still out injured, is a pretty good thing to see no matter how terrible Cagliari’s defense is. (And it’s bad!)
Things still weren’t firing on all cylinders. For all of the possession and shots that were created Tuesday night, it’s not like Juve were peppering Alessio Cragno in the Cagliari goal. With all that possession and all those shots, only four of them were on goal, with two of those being scored. It should have been more — both because Kean should have had at least one more goal if not for hitting the post and just for the simple fact that some very good scoring chances weren’t even put on goal.
That’s why this game was still 1-0 heading into the final 10 minutes. And if not for arguably the best save of the 2021-22 season from Wojciech Szczesny, then this game would have been all tied up and we would have been sweating this result rather than seeing Juve record another shutout.
That’s just the tenor of this team right now. Sometimes they play with fire and come out just fine. Other times they play with that same fire and come out totally burned. It’s just only exasperated this season because going up 1-0 has been so frequent yet finding a second goal before the opposition ties things up isn’t anything close to routine.
The good thing in all of this is that Juve didn’t allow disaster strike against one of the worst teams in the league in Cagliari. Things were close on a couple of instances, but it never actually happened. And hey, that’s better than other times this season. At this point, I’ll take it — getting three points is getting three points and Juve need those three points.
It always helps when Genoa — with Stefano Sturaro in the starting lineup! — gives us all an early Christmas present, too.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- And of course in the same game in which he scores a nice goal, Moise Kean has to come off injured. That is just the way things are going in terms of Juventus’ luck these days.
- While he might not technically get the assist since his cross was deflected, the late-fall/early-winter assist-a-palooza for Federico Bernardeschi essentially continued in this game. Hey, he’s playing a whole lot better and making those rumors of a contract extension not seem as wild as they did a few months ago.
- AND HE GOT A GOAL, TOO. WELCOME TO A DECEMBER TO REMEMBER FOR FEDE.
- Speaking off actual assists, Dejan Kulusevski’s assist on Bernardeschi’s goal was about as classic of a Kulu move as you can get. He wins the ball with a tackle, bombs forward on the counter and sets things up perfectly. That’s the Dejan Kulusevski I wish we got to see more often.
- There’s just something about the way that Max Allegri yells “KULUUUUU!!!” whenever he wants Kulusevski to do something that makes me laugh. Just the inflection of it is amusing enough.
- That save from Wojciech Szczesny in the 69th minute was so nice it had me thinking back to saves of that ilk from Gigi Buffon over the years. Shows you just howe well he’s recovered from his early-season struggles that he’s able to next to nothing the first two-thirds of the game and then be that locked in to make that kind of save.
- How dare Cagliari make Matthijs de Ligt bleed his own blood. HOW DARE THEY.
- Arthur ... wasn’t terrible in this game?
- Who led Juventus in tackles against Cagliari? That would be Arthur. Seriously.
- Guessing that the crowd at Allianz Stadium weren’t the only ones to see Adrien Rabiot yanked out of the game at halftime. The cheers from those in attendance were probably heard in a lot of living rooms around Italy, Europe and the world in general. Rabiot, AT BEST, is Juve’s fourth-best midfielder right now. At best.
- Basically, Weston McKennie should have started over Rabiot — and that’s even before he played pretty well after coming on for the Frenchman.
- Juan Cuadrado attempted 14 crosses against Cagliari. Everybody else in a Juventus jersey attempted eight crosses.
- Juventus completed exactly twice as many passes (506) as Cagliari did (253). You don’t see that too often, but it was a sign of just how little the visitors actually saw the ball.
- Cagliari has now allowed 40 goals in just 19 games. YIKES.
- Fun fact: The last manager to lead Cagliari to a win over Juventus — Max Allegri in 2009.